Anthony Davis vs Bam Adebayo: The matchup of the NBA Finals

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

After defeating Nikola Jokic in the previous round, Anthony Davis faces his toughest matchup of the playoffs, Bam Adebayo.

This is it. This is the moment all Laker fans have been waiting for ever since ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the Anthony Davis trade news. To quote Dr. Stephen Strange, “We are in the endgame now”.

After 10 years and innumerable players going through the roster, coaching changes, and failed free-agent pitches, the Los Angeles Lakers are back in the NBA Finals.

Awaiting on the other side of the ring standing at 12-3 in these playoffs and featuring a fearless group of competitors, please welcome the Miami Heat. This team was not expected to be here so, naturally, they have a chip on their shoulder which makes them the most dangerous team this Lakers team has faced.

Long gone are the defensively challenged Portland Trail Blazers, the hilariously small Houston Rockets, and the young, plucky Denver Nuggets. The Heat is on and they will come for your throat.

At the center of this matchup (pun intended), we have what I consider to be the most exciting matchup of these playoffs. I am talking of course about the Bam Adebayo vs Anthony Davis frontcourt battle.

These two players are somewhat excellently equipped to guard each other which makes this matchup so tantalizing. Let’s recap both players’ seasons before digging into the nitty-gritty.

After a controversial exit from the New Orleans Pelicans, Anthony Davis’s arrival was met with huge expectations. Fans and media alike quickly catapulted the Lakers into championship contention status and the team was under intense scrutiny all season long.

Led by Lebron James though, the Lakers have managed to meet and even surpass expectations every step of the way. Davis earned All-NBA 1st team accolades as well as a spot in the All-Defensive first team. He has been rock solid every step of the way and he is not done yet.

Moving on to the other side of the country, we have Bam Adebayo. Adebayo entered this season with little to moderate expectations. This is only his third season in the league and in the previous two seasons he served as a backup for the much-maligned Hassan Whiteside.

After Whiteside got the boot and was sent to Portland, Adebayo had a free path to the starting center spot. Since the season began, Bam has been a revelation making himself one of the most versatile defenders in the league and an elite passer for his position. For his efforts, Adebayo received a nod for the All-Defensive second team and earned his first All-Star appearance.

Now that we got that out of the way let’s take a bite into this matchup. For Davis to have success against Adebayo, he should avoid going at him with isolation possessions. Per John Schuhmann of, “Adebayo has defended 36 isolation possessions, second-most in the playoffs. The 0.58 points per possession he’s allowed on isolations rank third among 29 players who’ve defended at least 20.”

As is evident, Bam Adebayo is one of the best defenders in the entire league against isolation possessions.

What’s worse is that Anthony Davis is actually not at his most effective when playing in isolation. He generates 1.05 ppp in isolation plays and as a whole ranks among the 64th percentile of players that have run isolation plays in the playoffs. Instead, the Lakers should run a heavy dose of post-ups with Davis.

Here is another interesting nugget courtesy of Schuhmann, “Davis ranks third in the postseason with 8.0 post-ups per game, according to Second Spectrum tracking. The 1.04 points per possession he’s scored on post-ups ranks fifth among 13 players who’ve averaged at least two post-up possessions per game, according to Synergy.”

There are other factors that will obviously determine the outcome of this series, but the most crucial one will be how Davis and the Lakers counter Adebayo’s defensive brilliance. Coach Vogel will have his hands full against the man he has never beaten in a playoff series, Erik Spoelstra.

Next. Tactical preview of Heat-Lakers. dark

A game of chess will be displayed throughout the entire series and we get to be the audience. Buckle up. We should be in for a brilliant series.